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A Rankin headache

Written By: - Date published: 7:14 pm, June 23rd, 2009 - 31 comments
Categories: child discipline, national - Tags:

There must be an automatic recoil on the Government benches when Christine Rankin’s name is mentioned. Even Bill Ralston has noticed the difficulty in which they find themselves with her latest embarassment:

We now have the ludicrous position where a Families Commissioner appears to run a shadow campaign by proxy, through surrogates, completely contrary to Families Commission Policy.

Even sillier is Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s assertion that Rankin was only voicing a personal opinion. “I think it’s pretty clear that Christine Rankin was speaking as Christine Rankin and not as Families Commissioner,” Bennett finds that “acceptable”. No it’s not.

Could the State Services Commissioner come out and say the public service sucked and should be disbanded but that was just a personal opinion?….The Rankin appointment was a gift to the sharks of the media pack. Rankin was trailing blood in the water from the moment she was given the job and Paula Bennett better keep a look out for Jaws herself. It was a dumb appointment. Why doesn’t the Government just face up to that fact and terminate her?

31 comments on “A Rankin headache”

  1. Anita 1

    The Investigate interview is a problem too. Key gave a very clear indication of his expectations:

    as far as i’m concerned she’s been appointed as a commissioner one of seven in a part time job to advocate for families and particularly because of her expertise when it comes to abused children that’s what i want to hear her talking about and nothing else.

    Why has he let her get away with the Investigate interview?

    (The quote comes from this press conference, about 5:25 in)

  2. I find this issue really fascinating for what it says about Key’s control of government.

    You can bet that when Helen was in control and any significant appointment was coming up she knew who was on the list, would have made comments about who should be shortlisted, would have had an eye on it as it went through the selection process and would have been ready to announce it if necessary.

    Key, well, he did not know a thing until a few days after it happened.

    The difference is stark.

    Key is looking really tired. I bet that he is privately admiring the competence and ability that Helen showed when she was PM.

    • Anita 2.1

      Is it not knowing what to control, or how to control it?

      It is Key, or the team around him?

    • mike 2.2

      I don’t think so Micky – one of the reasons why clark suffered such humiliation in 2008 was because she was percieved as an autocratic control freak who trusted no one and had lost touch with real people.

      Key is probably too trusting but the punters like that – he’s human and lets others be.

      • Anita 2.2.1

        You can argue that the public likes his trusting image, but are you going to argue that they like his mistakes?

        It’s like Brash saying “I don’t remember” too often, it made him look like a favourite gentlemanly uncle (a plus 🙂 ), but it also made him look incompetent (not so much). The more he did it the more the scale tipped against him.

      • mickysavage 2.2.2

        Mike

        “one of the reasons why clark suffered such humiliation in 2008 was because she was percieved as an autocratic control freak who trusted no one and had lost touch with real people”

        Perceptions are so much more important than reality.

        I am accused of bias. But I should say that IMHO only 2 of the previous 5 Labour PMs were up to the job. Helen was by far the best of them.

  3. gobsmacked 3

    John Key has decided to respond by indulging in some very nasty mud-slinging. This what he said in the House today:

    1) “When National was in Opposition, we still cared about abused children and we did not spend our time playing political games. All those members care about is politics; they do not care about the abused kids of New Zealand.”

    2) “I go back to the point I just made: members on this side of the House care about abused kids. We look in the hospitals of New Zealand and see thousands of abused kids, and Christine Rankin has spoken out about the damage that is happening to those kids. We are going to do something about abused kids, because not enough happened under the previous Labour Government.”

    3) “I am more focused on the kids than on political point-scoring—but that is OK. Secondly, I do not believe Christine Rankin has been defiant; most sections of the media believe that she has been muzzled. Members on this side of the House care about abused kids, but members on that side do not.”

    He said it three times, so it was obviously a planned line of attack. A very offensive one.

    Now ponder this: Prime Minister Helen Clark insists National MPs just don’t care about abused kids. Reaction? It would be all over the media. It’s an incredible comment.

    But it’s been ignored. How does Key get away with this? Partly because Labour are helping him out (nobody called on the Speaker to make him withdraw and apologise, and Mallard later got himself ejected on a different matter, getting the headlines instead. Trevor, you’re a damn fool). But mainly because the media just don’t seem to want to call him on it.

    It was a disgraceful comment by the country’s Prime Minister, and he should be castigated for it. Sadly, he won’t be.

    • mike 3.1

      But labour do in fact look like they are only interested in playing political games at present so why not point that out.

      Goff and co need to look at why Key is so well liked by the public – he can rise above the petty filth that labours old guard seem to mired in.

      • gobsmacked 3.1.1

        Mike

        Do you believe that National MPs care about abused kids, while Labour MPs do not? If so, what is your evidence?

      • RedLogix 3.1.2

        Interesting. National spent 9 long years in Opposition missappropriating the language of political corruption, arrogance and smear, for the sole purpose of neutering its meaning and power.

        Now in power National have of course engaged directly in far more egregious and troubling acts of corruption and arrogance, but attempts to call them on it are now shrugged off as ‘old guard petty filth that everyone is sick of’.

        Same strategy the Republicans used against Clinton, and worked so well to prop up GW Bush’s popularity domestically, long after the rest of the world had seen through him for the lazy, irresponsible doofus he was.

        • Swampy 3.1.2.1

          Politicians are politicians. What do you expect them to be? Why is the occupation of politician nearly the most loathed worldwide?

          I hope at least the regular posters on this site are not, or significantly not, creatures of any particular political party; otherwise, they’re just expecting us to believe the impossible (i.e. that their class of politician is somehow less political)

          The Greens have made it a political mantra that they’re a better class of politician, but they foisted on us the MMP system with its party list, a new category of political featherbedders.

          The current issue of expenses spending is a case in point. Labour and National duck for cover. The Greens make a show of releasing information but it is only selective and leaves as many questions unanswered as it purports to address.

    • Crosby Textor’s bill is in the mail ; )

      Mike get your head around this.

      Key gives the appearance that he cares. Do not be fooled by appearances.

      Have a look at all the budget cuts and then realise that he does not give a F*&^ about poor people. He cares about looking like he does so that their support can be sustained.

      But people are already asking questions and we are only 8 months into this government.

    • Irascible 3.3

      Here is a classic example of the NACT party descending into the pit of argumentium ad homenium – if you cannot answer attack the messenger as well as trying to paint oneself as the victim to elicit sympathy.
      I don’t doubt that some NACT MPs feel sympathetic to abused children – after all their policies create the perfect environment to make child abuse a growth line on the statistics – but to appoint a person notorious for campaigning on behalf of those who wish to abuse their children (even if it is by using an undefined magnitude of force ) to a position to a committee that is meant to support the family unit and its loving, caring associations is to ask for trouble.
      Key is demonstrating that his judgment is unsound and that he is a weak and vacillating little man.

    • Dan 3.4

      Run this past me again. The opposition don’t care about abused kids but I support this loud mouth who reckons a good bash is discipline. I voted against the changing Sue Bradford’s bill but support this woman who wants to change its direction. Mr Key, you have lost it again. Mr Nice Guy does not always win.

      Bring back Helen!

    • Maggie 3.5

      Right on, gobsmacked. To claim your opponents don’t care about abused children is about as low as a Prime Minister can sink. That it was repeated means it wasn’t just a spur of the moment comment, but a plan of attack. That makes it a hundred times worse.

      It demonstrates a man under pressure and a man who doesn’t cope well with pressure.

      Key is first and foremost a salesman. He sets out to be liked and says whatever he thinks will get people to like him. That way they are more likely to buy what he is selling.

      In another life Key would have made a killing in the American West.Driving a brightly painted horse-drawn caravan, dressed in a loud check suit with a perpetual silly grin on his face and a line of quick patter, travelling from small town to small town fast talking the ladies, kissing the babies and selling bottles of sugar water as “Mother Key’s Instant Remedy – cures everything from ingrowing toenails to alopecia”

      Richard Long once described Key as the candidate from Hollywood casting. For once he was right. Salesmen can make superb political candidates, unfortunately they make lousy Prime Ministers. Good teeth and bullshit can take you only so far.

  4. RedLogix 4

    So this is the game plan. Set the otherwise disposable Rankin up as bait and when the feeding frenzy begins, turn her into a martyr for the cause.

    • Macro 4.1

      exactly! Of course Rankin doesn’t know that.

      Captcha “Dare that” – freaky!

    • Pascal's bookie 4.2

      Dunno if it’s a game plan as such, but I’ve long been intrigued about the way centre right parties the world over use the moral conservative constituency.

      The whole ‘culture war’ thing is pretty much run on high rhetoric, piss and vinegar, for nil outcome. At least on their side of the fence. Our side legislates.

      I can’t think of a single culture war issue since the 60’s that the right has even attempted to turn back in a serious manner. Abortion, divorce, women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights, censorship, contraception, sex ed, and everything else.

      When in opposition you will hear right wing pollies playing a symphony in canine major, preaching about the evil that the left’s latest travesty will bring, but when in power they absolutely refuse to actually legislate on this stuff.

      The only exception I can think of is GWB’s banning of a late term abortion technique and the global ban on US aid money going to organisations that would provide abortions. It’s notable that the latter didn’t apply to Americans, and the former only banned a technique, not late term abortion itself, (the fact that the technique banned was the safest one raises other issues though).

      Everything else they do in power, about these ‘culture war’ issues is symbolic. They make great hay about how they are have ‘stopped the tide’ but never attempt to reverse it.

      This is part of that.

      If the left is attacking Rankin, or Family First or whoever, and the govt is tutt-tutting about those attacks, then the ‘silent moral majority for the future of thinking about the childrens’ crowd feel supported enough that they stay on the reservation. Even though the government isn’t actually doing a damn thing about the issues that they care about.

      These symbolic defences of those that are being ‘attacked’ by the left, take the place of policy gains in terms of staying on side with the ‘culture warriors’.

      It’s a way of signaling to the warriors that the govt is ‘one of us’ standing up to ‘the left’. And it does so in a way that centrists aren’t too offended by because they see it as ‘just politics’ rightly thinking that ‘as long as no policy outcomes eventuate, who cares?’

      Now that all makes it sound like a game plan. I don’t know if it is, but that’s the way it plays out. The culture warriors are being taken for a ride though. Either deliberatly by the right wing parties that are only pretending to agree with them, or by the society that the right wing politicians know won’t stand for this stuff being rolled back.

      • mickysavage 4.2.1

        Good post PB

        So we need to start asking Key what he is actually doing every time he talks about “abused children”, hat-tip to gobsmacked.

        Now that he is the PM he ought to be coming up with solutions, not slogans.

        • vto 4.2.1.1

          Yes well put Mr Bookie but this … “I can’t think of a single culture war issue since the 60’s that the right has even attempted to turn back in a serious manner. Abortion, divorce, women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights, censorship, contraception, sex ed, and everything else. ”

          … is just because it was the dawning of the age of aquarius

          Just because one’s natural tendencies are not in the acsendancy nor required in the immediacy does it follow that they never have been or will be again. Some must carry the flags.

  5. Used Napkin 5

    Go girl go.

  6. So Bored 6

    Leave off Christine, she is one of NZs true visual wonders. An artform to challenge all conventional aesthetics, are those earings longer than her legs? Or the skirt shorter than her hair? Does that cloth colour hurt my eyes? Bit like a Rubics cube, it is too hard to work out.

    For the sake of ruining the visual puzzle can somebody please just tape over her mouth, its where the real headache begins.

  7. jcuknz 7

    It is obvious to me that Christine is a breath of fresh air introduced to the Family Commissionl and while solidarity may have a point with Cabinets and Trade Unions it is an objectionable musseling elsewhere. I hope she sticks to her principles and continues to voise her common sense opinons based on her experience of the problems. For heaven sake why cannot we separate and value a difference in position betweeen the ‘body’ and the individual.

    • Irascible 7.1

      I’m pleased you care so much about the environment that you find musselling unacceptable but it still makes your defence of the indefensible Ms Rankin is still a mystery to the public.

    • Swampy 7.2

      A public servant or someone with a public profile can’t have a personal opinion that is contrary to the position they are required to uphold in their job. That is an unspoken law of civil society. It is ridiculous to suppose that Rankin could carry on the way she has lately unless she is looking for a quick end to her appointment.

      Imagine, the amount of strife that her public posturing is going to cause among her fellow commissioners.

  8. Craig Glen Eden 8

    jcuknz because she is in a Public Servant position, she is employed/paid to take up the policy line publicly.
    Could you imagine a senior employee working for Coke saying” Cokes great but at home I drink Pepsi”.
    What the? Its just not credible, Benetts line is shit!
    Rankin does not get to give a private view publicly shes a public servant!

  9. Pascal's bookie 9

    Bishop Bertie said in an interview that he thought the idea of Jesus coming back from the dead was a great laugh. “What a fucking joke” he said, in a private personal capacity.

  10. randal 10

    nah.
    keep her on.
    I like the idea of a free hit (smack) whenever I feel like it.

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